The Silvertone 1300 guitar amplifier was introduced in the Spring/Summer of 1947 and manufactured until 1950. This was a Sears and Roebuck guitar amplifier that sold in their catalog for $60-$70 under the part number 57L01300. It was a simple amp with 3 inputs, an 8 inch speaker and 12-14 watts of maximum output through a 5 tube power unit. It was beautifully put together in a small but tough wooden cabinet that featured a treble clef painted across the front speaker fabric and a leather handle on the top. The three inputs are controlled with two separate volume knobs (two of the inputs are tied to a single volume knob) and a master tone switch for all three inputs that also functioned as the on/off switch for the amp.
The Silvertone 1300 was used by a number of artists during the 1950’s and can be credited with establishing many of the signature and iconic sounds and songs that were created during this era. Most notably, Luther Perkins who used the Silvertone 1300 during the recording sessions of a number of Johnny Cash songs including the classics “Folsom Prison Blues”, “Cry, Cry, Cry”, and “Hey Porter”. From this early use, the Silvertone 1300 amp has earned some real-estate at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville where it is proudly on display.
I was lucky enough to acquire a Silvertone a few years back and can state, with authority as a proud owner, that the sound from this little wonder is simply amazing. The simplicity of the amp lets you exploit the raw qualities and tones of a true vintage tube amp that are just not possible on a modern amplifier. The tone is clean and clear up until about 8 watts after which you overdrive the tubes creating a thick and tasty crunch that is the quintessential vintage sound you would expect from an amp like this. It is almost indescribable. I play my Silvertone often, but know deep inside that my time with it in its current state is limited. While I am fortunate that everything on it is original (even the tubes), the unfortunate reality is that tubes do not last forever. These precious amps from the 40’s, 50’s and early 60’s will be lost forever as they slowly fall prey to the harshness and realities of time. Sure, tubes and transformers can be replaced, but the modern replacements are not the same and they do not have the same tonal qualities of the tubes, transformers and speakers that were manufactured back in the day when Rock-n-Roll was born.
If you enjoy collecting vintage instruments and amplifies you might also find a Silvertone 1300 one day to add to your collection. They are difficult to find but if you are patient and persistent, you will find one eventually. They are out there but you will have to look.